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Social networks, the old way

Written by Adrian Kjær Dalhaug at 2019-01-10 18:23:18 UTC.

I maintain a list of future topics I might want to blog about. Lately I've seen a pattern emerge: Use some old (~1980's) technology or specification to make a kind of social network.

Mailer net

My first thought was something I'd like to call mailer net. The idea is a simple set of mail servers all adhering to a common whitelist. The whitelist was thought to be in the form of a DNS whitelist (DNSWH).

Why would this make any change at all? It would result in less spam, and an effective tool to reduce the little that would emerge. Any server administrator on the whitelist would have an incentive to have the server stay on the list by discouraging bad behaviour such as spam and harassment among its local users.

No risk of spam and abusive senders are a great idea to let email rings foster. There could even be a public list of email addresses with the owner's interests right next to it.

Imagine all that unsolicited email you'd receive. Not the bad kind (spam), but the one where your only thought is: That's interesting -- tell me more about it!

You could also have public mailing lists, which leads us to my next bullet on the list...:

Next generation Usenet

My next idea was to start a Usenet server with strict anti-harassment and -spam policies. If anyone would want to peer with that server, they'd have to implemented the same set of community guidelines.

If every server in the network would enforce the policy, it would probably be some sort of happy place. Maybe even a better idea than mailer net?

I then realised a little fun fact: It has already been done. Between 1998 and 2010. Yeah, bummer. The project was called Usenet II and enforced a policy of "sound sites".

It was amazing to read the rules of Usenet II. I felt it was exactly what I had in mind. Truly baffling -- like my ideas had been telepathically stolen from someone in the past.

What next?

Are any of those ideas doable? Yes*. I put the asterisk there because it's all dependent upon one critical part: Adoption. Not a lot of adoption, but enough that I'm not feeling too alone.

Would I appreciate to have my own mail server which couldn't receive any mail? Yeah, probably for the first month. Fun to poke around with servers. I would eventually get bored an decommission it.

I just registered the domain If there isn't any interest, I'll let it expire next year. We'll see how this goes.

I hope this was as intriguing for you as much as it was for me.

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Generated at 2019-01-10 18:23:18 UTC.